Dana Mladin

To the clippie, in the back…

What do today’s young people know about the phrase: “from hand to hand, to the clippie, in the back”… What do they know what it means?

Although I have heard it often nowadays, I do not think that many of those who use this expression know how to explain it.

And here we are, the people of my generation, some rather old aunties and uncles

During the century when I was part of “what do the young people of today know?” (said in a derogatory tone, of course), traveling by public transportation could be an adventure! Forget Minecraft or Fortnite, man, what bungee jumping, there was all the adrenaline! We were living dangerously, traveling without a ticket hihi.


I was little when there still existed the clippies – the ladies who were sited in busses and trams and sold you the tickets, the bus conductors.

At that time I had a subscription, as I traveled daily, I was a busy person J.

But I always saw them: the bus conductors were perched on a chair, close to the back part of the wagon, behind a door with a countertop, or whatever one could call that. They were ready to sell tickets to new travelers.

If you happened to get on the bus or tram through the front door and it was crowded, you would send the ticket money from hand to hand, to the clippie, in the back of the bus or tram. Hence the phrase…

Do you know that the job of a bus conductor is not dead yet? In the third millennium, not in just any place, but in Japan, I came across the bus conductors in the public transportation. It’s just that they don’t have that “from hand to hand”…

In our country, this profession disappeared in 1982. With the advent of the civic spirit maybe?… The one on which the authorities relied when they said that we are ready to get to any means of public transportation with a ticket in hand, which we immediately compost in some devices called composters?

The fact that I have a composter now, in 2021, I’d say, places me directly in the category of antique collectors J.

During high school, although as students we had half-price subscriptions, the period between two subscriptions took the illegalist out of us. (Not to mention those who spent their subscription money on God knows what. These ones were already rebels!)

Traveling without a ticket was not a rule, but it was no exception either. I often heard “the controller caught me”. It’s true, the controllers at that time were something like security guards! They didn’t have uniforms, they walked around and followed under cover, they blocked you on the bus stairs when you were trying to get down in a hurry, they took you down from the bus as if you were a murderer. People used to watch the show!

There was also a kind of solidarity among travelers. Often enough someone would quickly compost a ticket for the one just caught by the controller, he offered it to him and that’s how the circus and the fine disappeared.


In my early days as a “ITB” (Bucharest Transportation Enterprise) traveler, there was the simple ticket, that is a ticket with a single trip. The imagination of those who did not want to compost the ticket was overflowing! And the solutions spread quickly among us…

We had gained dexterity in inserting the ticket into the composter so that it would only compost the margin of it. You were legal, nothing could be said. And when you got off the bus, you’d cut the margin and there you were, the owner of a brand new ticket.

Another solution was to make a clone out of plain paper and, once in the trolleybus, to compost it. Then you took out of your pocket the collection of old and composted tickets and find the one with the same combination of holes as the one on the clone (the combinations were not so many, considering that we travelled every day on the same route).

God, how many times have I asked “excuse me, do you have a ticket?”… Because there weren’t booths selling tickets in most stations, like now. As far as I can remember, you could only buy at the ends of the route.

If you didn’t have tickets and you got up the means of transportation somewhere on the route, you would start asking everybody around. I’ve done this many times. Someone who had more would give you one for its official fee and so you were safe.

With the appearance of the double ticket, the situation became more complicated. Although, if I think about it, maybe that’s how some relationships appeared J). Because a traveler who can offer you the other end of a ticket practically binds you to him! You’d sit or stand next to that person, to be automatically next to the ticket in case the controllers came. And you stayed like that, glued to that man, until one got off the bus and the other one stayed on and kept the ticket.

In the “I don’t have a ticket” situation, there were several solutions to get rid of the long and embarrassing discussions with the controllers.

One was… the economy class. Yes, yes, there was an economy class on the tram. (God, I am so old!!!)

The car in front, where the driver was, was first class, and the second car was the economy class, with worse seats, I never understood why, as you needed a ticket there too. The only advantage was that the controllers didn’t go there very often, as it looked like a wagon for the challenged people…

Another solution to get rid of any questions about the ticket was to travel outside the vehicle!

source File de istorie

I love this picture I found on the net. Well, come on, I’m not really that old, I wasn’t born at that time, but in my childhood and adolescence this was also practiced, only on that thing at the end of the tram, on its “tail”.

You needed some courage…

I admit, I wasn’t so daring. My bravest gesture – not out of a need to be interesting, but out of need! – was the trip on the stairs.

source File de istorie

Do you remember??? It seemed to be part of our DNA…

At least here you knew for sure that you don’t need a ticket anymore, and “the back” of the clippie could be one cut out of Victoria’s Secret pictures, because no one could reach it anymore!

Did I say “Victoria’s Secret”??? Damn, I’m out of the era, sorry. I meant “The Victory of Socialism” J)).


PS The first picture of the article is from a movie I played in. I was in a tram, I had a composter in the back, and I was practicing that look of “Damn, the controller is coming!” hihi


  • Dinu

    31 March 2021 at 06:17

    Taxatoarea ? Normal că mi-o amintesc; taxatoarea (sau încasatoarea) era o femeie căreia nu-i puteam zice nici doamnă, nici tovarăşă. Ea pur şi simplu era un obiect care făcea parte din acel tramvai, la fel ca şi manipulantul. Iar tramvaiul era un obiect, care ne căra la “ducere” sau la “întoarcere” prin Bucureşti, prin Connstanţa şi prin alte locuri din România (de regulă oraşe). Dar tramvaiul era doar în Bucureşti. Eu aşa ştiam în copilăria mea de la începutul anilor ’60.
    Ei, şi când tramvaiul, troleibuzul sau autobuzul erau pline “ochi”, taxatoarea bătea cu cleştele în mesuţă şi striga:
    – “Avansaţi mai în faţă, că stă un domn prost pe scară !”

  • Valentin Frînculescu

    22 May 2021 at 13:40

    Bună,am o recomandare,sper să ții cont de ea.Folosește diacritice,este mult mai profesionist.


  • Loredana

    16 March 2022 at 11:26

    Stiu filmul…”Muschetarii in vacanta”. L-am vazut de curand cu fiul meu pe Cinemaraton ( eu sunt din generatia ta, dar prefer sa-i pun filme “din vremea noastra”, ca-s mai educative).

    Apropo de mersul pe nv sau (sestache – asa zicem in Timisoara), se practica si pe tren mersul cu “Nasul” in perioada studentiei. Eu, desi aveam abonament gratuit in perioada scolara, tatal meu lucra la C.F.R, imi placea sa merg si eu cu “Nasul”, adica sa cotizez cu “gasca” si sa suportam in comun adrenalina cand venea “Nasul” si , mai ales, “Supracontrolul”…ce vremuri!


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